Skulls of the Shogun developer Plush Apocalypse Productions has sounded off about the studio’s troubling experience with Microsoft Studios.
The game had an exclusivity deal on the game for Xbox 360 and Windows 8 phones and tablets, a deal that’s near its end. Plush Apocalypse’s Borut Pfeifer apparently felt the timing was right to air out some dirty laundry to Rock Paper Shotgun.
"We felt like we knew what we were getting into even though it would take a long time to negotiate," Pfeifer said. "We had something that they wanted, so we thought we’d take advantage of that. It was a case where we were like ‘we know some things are going to be a problem but we think that on some level we’ll get something out of them as well,’ but I think it was an awful lot worse for us than others. We ran into problems that nobody else had got or talked about it."
"We were launching on three new pieces of the Microsoft ecosystem – their new Async and sort of social multiplayer services, we were launching on Windows 8 and we were launching on the ARM tablets [Surface]. Those were new, and we didn’t get them until very late. So all the certification and process issues, we didn’t just have them, or even maybe three times the amount, it was an exponential kind of thing. You would have issues on one platform which would actually contradict processes or requirements on another platform. We tried to get the different groups on the same page, to tell them that ‘this needs to be the same’, just to make things better for the next people who had to face it, but yeah, we ran into exponential difficulties on the process side.
"We thought ‘well, it’s Microsoft, they have bankroll, they can afford this stuff,’ but because of their processes seeming so fucked up, they couldn’t actually do that. Even though they were partially funding the game to completion, we had to take a loan to cover the fact that they hadn’t yet paid us what they were supposed to."
Pfeifer then explained why Microsoft can’t be an ‘evil’ corporation, as evil implies certain requisites the company just doesn’t meet.
"When people call Microsoft ‘evil’, while I don’t want to defend them, it’s kind of an undeserved compliment. To be evil, you have to have vision, you have to have communication, execution… None of those are traits are things that I would ascribe to Microsoft Studios."
"They came across as though they were institutionally incompetent. I think they’re not really set up to be a decent publisher. I do feel slightly bad saying that, because there were people there who worked hard on our behalf, but at the same time there are systemic problems with the way that division is setup and run."
Skulls of the Shogun is currently available via the Windows 8 App Store, and is heading to Steam next month.